The following op-ed by Martin Murray, spokesman for Northern Pass, recently appeared in a number of New Hampshire newspapers, including the Laconia Daily Sun.
Northern Pass is Committed to Working with Businesses Along the Route
By Martin Murray
Earlier this month, the U.S. Forest Service issued a draft Record of Decision recommending approval of Northern Pass’ underground route within the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF). It said the project is in the public interest because it will meet the region’s “long-term energy needs in a sustainable, secure, and cost-effective manner.” Northern Pass is a clean energy project that will transmit enough hydropower to power 1 million homes. It will reduce CO2 emissions by 3.2 million metric tons a year, the equivalent of taking 670,000 cars off the road. The project is consistent with New Hampshire’s Clean Energy Action Plan and will provide an affordable and reliable baseload source of clean energy as older power plants close and we continue to add more intermittent sources such as solar and wind.
The draft Record of Decision also supports the project’s proposed route, saying it “is a reasonable way to transmit electrical power through the WMNF in a minimally impactful way when considering all available alternatives.”
The decision to bury the project for a total of 60 miles, with 52 of those miles in and around the White Mountain National Forest, came after numerous meetings with New Hampshire residents and stakeholders, who emphasized the importance of avoiding view impacts in that region. The improved route does just that, eliminating view impacts in the Forest, Franconia State Park area, and along the Appalachian Trail.
The improved route is part of our effort to reduce the impact to New Hampshire while also bringing affordably-priced clean energy to the region. We’ve also reached out to each community along the route to discuss how best to avoid impacts during construction. Through mutually agreed upon memorandums of understanding, or MOUs, Northern Pass can address a community’s unique needs, such as consideration of community events and other local and seasonal activities, equipment storage and staging areas, coordination with emergency responders, and establishing responsibility for any damage to roads. We have already signed MOUs with four towns and are in discussions with others.
We appreciate that running a small business can be challenging and that a project of this magnitude may cause concern. We know we must find ways to lessen the impact of construction, and we will work with local chambers and other groups to promote and support uninterrupted commerce throughout construction. Northern Pass has submitted a construction plan to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee that includes regular communications with business owners, traffic management plans, signage directing customers to temporary parking, outreach to customers through newspapers and other media, and a special “hotline” and online communications for quick response to problems, should they arise.
We have made a pledge to hire New Hampshire workers first. Workers who, as much as any small business owner along the route, want to see this state succeed. Those workers will need to fill up their gas tanks, grab a meal, wash their clothes, spend the night, and make other purchases while on the job. These are purchases that will be made in towns along and around the route, and economic data shows spending associated with Northern Pass will boost New Hampshire’s economy, not diminish it.
Northern Pass has sent letters and updates to landowners and businesses along the route, asking for feedback and inviting anyone with questions or concerns to give us a call. We are a New Hampshire company with many long-time New Hampshire residents working to bring more clean energy to the region. We want to see New Hampshire businesses grow and succeed, and are dedicated to working with local officials, meeting with businesses and communicating to residents and tourists alike that their favorite destinations are open for business.
Any business owner who would like to talk to a Northern Pass representative may do so by calling 1-800-286-7305.